Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Trump backtracks on Russian meddling

Read more

THE DEBATE

Collusion? Backlash after Trump praises Putin in Helsinki

Read more

FOCUS

Is French oak under threat?

Read more

ENCORE!

Questions of gender take centre stage at Avignon’s theatre festival

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Street party, not a wake: Croatian football fans welcome home team

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

UK looks to calm Brexit fears at Farnborough Airshow

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigeria: Army denies reports of missing soldiers after Boko Haram attacks

Read more

FOCUS

Despite economic blockade and corruption scandals, Qatar prepares for its 2022 World Cup

Read more

ENCORE!

Beatmaker & singer Estère brings her musical melting pot to Afropunk Paris

Read more

REVISITED

We return to places which have been in the news - often a long time ago, sometimes recently - to see how local people are rebuilding their lives. Sunday at 9.10 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2018-06-22

Video: Shenzhen, from fishing port to China’s Silicon Valley

As French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe begins a four-day visit to China in the south-eastern city of Shenzhen, our team reports from this former fishing village that’s been transformed into a giant metropolis in the space of a few decades. Shenzhen is now one of China’s richest cities. Foreign capital flows in constantly and every week, new companies spring up.

Of all the mega-cities in the world’s most populous country, it’s the one that best embodies the "Chinese economic miracle". With 15 million inhabitants, Shenzhen is the capital of start-ups, new technologies, innovation and design. Today, it’s the country’s top city in terms of GDP and its double-digit growth makes it the engine of China’s stunning development.

>> Inside China's answer to Silicon Valley

Less than 40 years ago, though, Shenzhen was just a small fishing village, isolated in the middle of a poor agricultural area, the Pearl River Delta. In 1980, President Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China's reforms and openness, chose the city for the country's first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to receive foreign investment, as the People's Republic of China began to open up to the outside world.

The city metamorphosed at lightning speed, seeing spectacular economic and demographic development. Foreign capital flowed in by the thousands and every week, factories emerged from the ground. For three decades, its manufacturing industry spearheaded China's growth, with Shenzhen and the surrounding Guangdong province nicknamed the "Factory of the World". And Shenzhen’s development did not stop there.

Thousands of patents filed

The city attracted new wealth and skills from the wider region, from Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton) to Hong Kong, to become the economic face of contemporary China. Shenzhen is now at the forefront of technological innovation and produces electronic goods, such as smartphones, tablets, robots or televisions. Emerging business sectors are growing by 20% and in just five years, the city has reportedly filed more than 12,000 patents, almost half the country’s total. The average age in the city is just 28, with one million expatriates.

How, in less than 40 years, was a simple fishing village able to become the "Chinese Silicon Valley"? And at what price? Who are the young entrepreneurs who choose Shenzhen to launch their start-ups? Why did Communist China allow this city to build its own identity and become a Chinese exception?

Our reporters Antoine Védeilhé, Thomas Blanc and Charlie Wang went to explore this ever-changing laboratory of the “Made in China” version of capitalism.

By Antoine VÉDEILHÉ , Thomas BLANC , Charlie WANG

Archives

2018-06-08 Achraf ABID

Video: What remains of multicultural France that won 1998 World Cup?

Most French people remember where they were on the night of July 12, 1998. That’s when France was crowned the winner of the football World Cup, after beating Brazil 3-0. After...

Read more

2018-05-25 Middle East

After key battle, Syrian town of Kobane looks to the future

In 2014, the Syrian town of Kobane was the scene of a long and deadly battle involving the Islamic State group, Kurdish YPG forces and the US-led coalition.

Read more

2018-05-11 Africa

Video: Ten years on, what remains of Somalia's 'Pirateland'?

A decade ago, Somali pirates were frequently in the headlines for hijacking boats and holding their crews for ransom. The epicentre of the piracy crisis was Somalia's...

Read more

2018-04-27 Americas

Video: California residents prepare for 'the Big One'

All Californians are aware that one day "the Big One" – a massive earthquake – will hit the San Francisco Bay area. According to experts, there is a 90 percent probability that...

Read more